French minister calls British plans to ditch parts of NI protocol “worrying”

France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune said on Tuesday the United Kingdom should respect its Brexit agreement with the European Union and described as worrying initiatives by London to ditch parts of the Northern Ireland protocol. “Everyone should respect their word and their signature. You can’t instrumentalise for whatever reason such serious and important matters,” Beaune said. The […]

French minister calls British plans to ditch parts of NI protocol “worrying”

Council Estate Media

BREXIT and the DUP has guaranteed there is no path back to the previous NI status quo before Brexit


As with so many Brexit problems it is always someone else’s fault. In the case of the North of Ireland, blame lies not with those such as David Frost, Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, who signed the deal, but with Remainer opponents who “forced” them into it.

This is the justification for continued intransigence in the dispute over the NI protocol, through which Frost and Johnson eroded the province’s constitutional integrity within the UK to maximise the Brexit freedoms for the British mainland. Outfoxed by Dublin and outgunned by the EU, they agreed that the North of Ireland would become a discrete EU jurisdiction with a Brexit Sea Border in the Irish Sea.

Tories, and NI’s unionist parties, have been trying to rewrite the deal ever since — aided by the EU’s overly zealous implementation of border checks on goods from Britain. The row has resulted in political stasis within the North of Ireland and the collapse of its power-sharing executive in Stormont. Relations were further poisoned when Johnson unveiled legislation unilaterally abrogating the Good Friday Agreement (GFA)

Suddenly, there is optimism that under Rishi Sunak a reset of relations might allow a new settlement. The foreign secretary, James Cleverly, and Chris Heaton-Harris, NI Secretary of State, are working with Maroš Šefčovič’s team at the European Commission to find areas for agreement. Common ground on relaxing the border checks is close, though this resolves only some trade issues. Leo Varadkar, the Irish premier, admits all sides “made mistakes” and has suggested shelving other planned rules. A data-sharing deal has raised hopes of “express lanes” for goods intended only for the North of Ireland, to remove the checks that deter mainland firms from selling there.

Sadly, this is the easy part. Initial worries have hardened into sovereignty arguments and led the Democratic Unionist party, cheered on by Brexit hardliners, to boycott, and so bring down the Stormont executive. Placing the North of Ireland within the EU’s single market for goods left it in Brussels’ regulatory orbit with the European Court of Justice as ultimate arbiter of issues covering VAT, trade and state aid. This pass was sold by the Brexiters.

Here lies the deeper problem: that egg cannot be unscrambled. The situation can be improved and some oversight scaled back. But there is no viable outcome under which the EU surrenders all jurisdiction. The North of Ireland will not fully regain its previous status.

So the challenge is to find enough of a fudge to break the logjam, one where the UK accepts the reality but the EU agrees to use its power lightly. Multiple ideas are advanced. There is talk of restricting the ECJ’s trade remit to goods not in the express lane. Better still would be the creation of a trade arbitration panel to settle disputes, reducing the ECJ’s status as final word. This would not resolve all issues. But without concessions Sunak will face enormous and possibly fatal internal opposition from the faction in his party that already distrusts him. So there are limits to what he can sell. This is why the EU needs to help him.

Brussels might be tempted simply to deliver the trade improvements and then wait for the possibility of a more amenable Labour government. But the Ukraine crisis has highlighted the need for European unity, which cannot wait for up to two years. The conditions for agreement are here. The UK and Ireland want a deal, Brussels sees Sunak as more reliable than his predecessors and the US is pressing for a way through.

This could be a defining issue for Sunak. Standing up to his ultras to drive through a deal that improves life for the people in the North of Ireland would show him to be a politically brave problem-solver. There are other electoral benefits. He knows voters are fed up with Brexit wrangles and want him focused on other issues.

The alternative to helping Sunak may be fresh confrontation. The legislation breaching the agreement may be in parliamentary limbo but it need not stay there.

Nor can Stormont be left idle indefinitely — not least when there are pressing economic problems to tackle. The DUP’s political misjudgments on Brexit have been epic and their intransigence legendary, but an effort to mollify them must be made. This year will be the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Joe Biden may even fly in from the US for the ceremonies. But they will feel rather hollow if the executive at the centre of that deal is still shuttered.

While Sunak must resist his hardliners, he cannot be expected to commit political suicide. He needs a solution that can credibly be presented as restoring some balance on sovereignty.

It may be that no deal can satisfy his purists or persuade the DUP back into government: to compromise would be to acknowledge a reality that Brexiters cannot accept, that the North of Ireland’s previous status is irrevocably altered. NI can never go back to the way it was before the DUP pushed NI into Brexit. Mechanisms may change but tax, state aid and sovereignty issues will still bubble up, especially if the Tories do increase regulatory divergence.

So three conditions are needed. Sunak needs the gumption to drive home a deal. Brussels must help him enough to make it worth the pain and the ultras and unionists need to accept the reality to which they were the midwives. The last may be a forlorn hope, but only once they accept there is no return to the old status quo will there be hope for a deal everyone can swallow. The DUP has guaranteed there is no path back to the previous NI status quo before Brexit.

With many thanks to the: and for the original story.

Follow this link to to find out more on this story: There is no path back to a pre-Brexit Northern Ireland:

All Eight DUP MP’s Voted For The Border and Nationality Bill – Leading The Way To The Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme (ETA) – Which Threatens Our Health Service Provision and Tourism in the North Warns Irish Government.


CROSS-BORDER services face disruption following the planned introduction of a new travel document by the Conservative and Unionist Party

Non-Irish citizens will need to apply under the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme before being allowed to travel to the North of Ireland. But the planned roll-out of the scheme this year has attracted heavy criticism from a broad spectrum of organisations, from human rights groups to businesses, particularly in the tourism sector.
Now the Dublin government has warned that the ETA “threatens the fluid nature of movement on the Island of Ireland and north-south cooperation including tourism and cross-border service provision”.

“The UK’s plans to establish an ETA-type Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme that would apply to non-Irish residents of Ireland and tourists who wish to travel from south to north are highly problematic,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a strongly worded statement.
“The impact on tourism in the North of Ireland, for example, could be very significant as many tourists arrive in the North of Ireland via this jurisdiction. The NI Tourism Alliance and Tourism Ireland have articulated the risks very clearly.”

The Home Office plans to roll out the ETA over the course of this year with full implementation by its end. On Tuesday night London played down the impact of the ETA on cross-border travel and on communities in the region. Officials claimed it will not be “onerous or burdensome”.
The Home Office also said: “There are – and will continue to to be – no routine immigration controls whatever on the Ireland-NI land border, or on journeys within the Common Travel Area.”
It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s latest comments on the post-Brexit protocol are being viewed positively in London. Downing Street, welcoming what it believes is a shift in tone from Dublin, said it had “always felt it was possible to enact the protocol in a way that was flexible”.

Who were the government ministers from *orthern Ireland who voted along with the Tory Party for the Border and Nationality Bill? That ‘could cost the north’s tourism sector up £160m’?

Mr Varadkar, who became taoiseach last month for the second time, recognised that the protocol had made unionists feel separated from the UK and said the EU was “willing to show flexibility and to make compromises”.
The Home Office plans full implementation of ETA by the end of this year. It applies to all citizens of countries that do not need a visa to enter the UK. The European Union is introducing its own ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa waiver document in November but it applies only in the Schengen travel area, not Ireland. While not all details have yet been worked out, the ETA is likely to be valid for two years once successfully applied for. A government spokesperson added: “Those arriving in the UK, including NI, will need to continue to enter in line with the UK’s immigration framework, and follow Electronic Travel Authorisation rules when introduced.

John McGrillen, chief executive of Tourism NI, said in an interview last week: “There’s a little bit of a nonsense.”On the one hand the government are saying you’re required to have it but on the other hand they’re saying no-one will be checking to find out if you have one or not.”
Mr McGrillen, believes tourism will suffer despite assurances from London that they are working “to mitigate concerns”. “If you think of an agent who has been selling Cork and Kerry for decades, and we’ve only started to convince these people to start to sell the North of Ireland, the risk is that when they’re talking to a client they might suggest to them, ‘well, you can save yourself that hassle by just staying south of the border’, he said.
“That’s one of the key risks.”
Transport companies are going to be expected to check and confirm a traveller has the right documentation prior to travel and face penalties for failing to do so, according to the Home Office’s own published documents. The fine could be up to £2,000 per person, the NI Affairs committee heard last year.

The Home Office did not immediately comment on the amount. While the emphasis in the legislation passed last year was on airlines and ferry companies, the onus could land on train and bus firms, tour operators and even taxi companies.
Translink on Tuesday night declined to comment on the potential impact. In its statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs, now led by former taoiseach Micheál Martin, said: “It is welcome that in recent months the Home Office and the NIO have articulated an increased awareness of the complexities such a scheme presents in the context of the North of Ireland and are engaging with us on this matter.
“We will continue to press for exemptions to the UK’s ETA scheme.”

With many thanks thanks to the: Irish News and John Breslin for the original story. Follow these links to find out more on this story:

‼️New rules to apply for non-Irish or British nationals crossing the Irish #border from mid-2023

Rebordering NI after Brexit: Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)

Who were the government ministers from *orthern Ireland who voted along with the Tory Party for the Border and Nationality Bill? That ‘could cost the north’s tourism sector up £160m’?

This is the story of Tory MP Michelle Mone and that £29m

Strap in, we’re going on a ride from Westminster to the Isle of Man.

Praise for Tory MP who put the DUP in its place over lack of energy price cap in NI

How surprising, actually to be able to praise a Conservative member of Parliament for pointing out the facts of life to other politicians who have harmed the people! Energy is a devolved responsibility in Northern Ireland, and the reason people there don’t have the safety of a cap on the price of energy per unit is…

Praise for Tory MP who put the DUP in its place over lack of energy price cap in NI

ERG Conservative MP Steve Baker says the new PM must ‘carry through the current NI Protocol policy’.

He suggests that if the current policy is not carried through the “Eurosceptics would implode the government”.


Eddie Mair rips Boris apart with questions about lying and integrity. Johnson turned up for interview not realising Andrew Marr was sick with Mair standing in. Mair, a working class boy from Dundee had no time for Johnson’s pomp, arrogance and entitlement.


Labour to step up efforts to stop ‘reckless’ NI Protocol Bill in Lords


THE: Electorate majority in Ulster ‘did not’ vote for Brexit and the DUP do not speak for majority of the electorate in Ulster.

Friday 21st October, 2022.
Labour peers are to step up their campaign to stop the “reckless” Northern Ireland protocol bill being passed with demands for more than 20 changes.

Jenny Chapman, the shadow cabinet minister in the Lords, told the Guardian the bill was “an abomination, undermining the UK’s hard-won reputation as a responsible, trustworthy partner” and called on the government to “scrap this reckless legislation”.

When the committee stage begins in the Lords on Tuesday, Labour peers will put the government on notice that the bill will not proceed to the next stage until a variety of conditions are met. These include a promise that diplomatic efforts to end the row over the protocol are given a chance to work before any legislation is passed. The bill is one of Liz Truss’s flagship policies.

In a motion of regret, Labour will also ask the government to prepare and publish “an impact assessment outlining the likely consequences of the use of powers in this bill on the Northern Ireland business community”. The party wants the government to publish “indicative regulations, which may be laid using the powers in this bill”, as well.

The bill as it stands gives ministers powers to introduce new laws to undo Brexit arrangements with little scrutiny, something that has fuelled sharp criticism both in the Commons and the Lords.

The proposed legislation has also been criticised on the grounds it would breach the international treaty signed by the EU and the UK agreeing to the protocol as a means of preventing a trade border with customs posts and checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Lady Chapman said: “The government must not squander the opportunity of its negotiations with the EU. With hard work and compromise on all sides, a deal is achievable to end this damaging, self-inflicted standoff, and scrap this reckless legislation.”

Labour will table 22 “probing amendments” including several that would set strict conditions under which any laws could be used.

The party is suggesting the proposed legislation should make it “a statutory requirement for the government to seek a negotiated outcome with the EU and to exhaust legal routes under the EU withdrawal agreement before availing itself of the powers in this bill”.

Several amendments address fears raised by legal experts of the extraordinary powers the bill confers on ministers to create new laws. The government has claimed these powers are designed to undo EU rules on VAT and state aid but experts have said they would set a precedent that is dangerous in a democracy.

The controversial bill was tabled by Truss earlier this summer when she was foreign secretary, but when she became prime minister she agreed to give negotiations another chance.

In the last two weeks there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity involving talks between the foreign secretary, James Cleverly, and European commissioner and vice-president Maroš Šefčovič.

The Northern Ireland secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris, has also said he hoped for a diplomatic solution that would make the need for the legislation “redundant”.

With many thanks to the: Guardian

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